Western Music OpenCourseWare: MIT's Free Undergraduate Class on Western Music

Published Jan 27, 2009

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While medieval church music might not be a high seller on iTunes, musical pieces from the Middle Ages offer insights into the development of western culture's musical tradition. 'Introduction to Western Music' is free OpenCourseWare that delves into the history of music in Europe (and later the United States) from the medieval period to the 20th century. This course is part of the undergraduate Music program at MIT.

Introduction to Western Music: Course Specifics

Degree Level Free Audio Video Downloads
Undergraduate Yes No No Yes

Lectures/Notes Study Materials Tests/Quizzes
Yes Yes Yes

Introduction to Western Music: Course Description

From the powdered wigs of court musicians during the Renaissance to the time of towering pompadours in American doo-wop groups, western culture's musical traditions have gone through many transformations. This course surveys western music from the medieval period to the 20th century (though it sadly doesn't actually cover doo-wop). Professor Ellen Harris emphasized the period often thought of as the height of European classical music, from the 18th century to the early 20th. The class focused on the corresponding musical styles from that time period, including baroque, romantic and early modernist compositions. Apart from lectures on musical genres and cultural history, students of the original course developed their music appreciation by listening to performances of prominent composers. This course is part of the MIT Music curriculum.

This free OpenCourseWare includes a reading list, essay assignments, listening assignments, links to concerts around MIT, final exam study guide (topics and sample questions) and a complete set of lecture notes. Dive into the history of Western Music by visiting the roots of Western music (1700-1910) course page.

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